tv [untitled] June 16, 2010 12:30am-1:00am EDT
forward. we're doing to clean up the oil, what we're doing to help our neighbors in the gulf, and what we're doing to make sure a catastrophe like this never happens again. first, the cleanup. from the beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation's's history. . .
because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming, and other collection methods. over 5.5 million feet of boom has been laid across the water to absorb the oil. we have approved the construction of new barrier islands in louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore. we are working with alabama, missiisippi, and floridaato implement approaches to their unique coastlines. as the cleanup continues, we will offer any assistance our coastal states may need. a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect. new challenges will always arise. if something is not working, we want to hear about it. iffthere are problems in the operation, we will fix them. we have to recognize that, despite our best efforts, oil has caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife.
no matter how effective our response s, there will be more oil and damage before this siege is done. that is why the second thing we are focused on is the recovery and restoration of the gulf coast. you know, for generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water. that living is now in jeopardy. i've spoken to fishermen who do not know how they will support their families this year. i have seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers, even in areas where the beaches are not affected. i have talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists might start ccming back. the sadness and the anger they feel is not just about the money they have lost. it is about a wrenching anxiety, that their way of life may be lost. i refuse to let that happen.
tomorrow, i will meet with the chairman of bp and inforr him that he is to set aside whatever rrsources are necessary to compensate the workers and those who have been harmed as a result of this company's recklessness. this fund will not be controlled by bp. to ensure that all claims are paid out in a timely manner, the account must be administered by an independent third party. beyond compensating the people of the gulf in the short term, it is also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. the oil spill represents the latest blow to a place that has suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. the region still has nnt recovered from hurricanes katrina and rita. that is why we must make a commitment that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the
moment. i make that commitment tonight. earlier, i asked the secretary of the navy, also a former governor of mississippi and a son of the gulf coast, to restoration plan as soon asast%- possible. the plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other residents. bp will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region. the third part is the steps we are taking to ensure a disaster like this does not happen again. a few months ago, i approved a proposal to consider new,, limited offshore drilling under the assurance it would be safe, that the proper technology would be in place and necessary precautions would be taken. that obviously was not the case in the deepwater horizon rig.
and i want to know why. the american people deserve to know why. the families i met with last week, who lost their loved ones in the explosion -- these families deserve to know why. and so i have eetablished a national commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations.i've issued a sh moratorium on deep water drilling. i know this creates difficulty for the people who work on the rigs. but for the sake of their safety and the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue. while i urge the commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, i expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially. one place we have begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling
and issuing permits, known as the minerals management service. over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility, a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. at this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors and were allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations. when ken salazar became secretary of the interior, one of his first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. but it is now clear the problem there ran much deeper and the pace of reform was just too slow. so secretary ken salazar and i are bringing in new leadership at the agency. michael bromwich, who is a tough federal prosecutor and inspector general. his charge over the next few
months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry's watchdog, not its partner. one of the lessons we have learned from this spill is that we need better regulations and better safety standards and better enforcement. but a larger lesson is that, no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risks. after all, oil is a finite resource. we consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have less than 2% of the world's oil reserves. that is part of the reason oil companies are drilling one mile beneath the surface of the ocean. because we are running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water. for decades, we have known the days of cheap and asily accessibll oil were numbered. for decades, we talked and talked about the need to end america's century-long addiction to fossil fuels.
for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. time and again, the path forward has been blocked, not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor. the consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. countries like china are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that ssould be right here in america. each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. today, as we look to the gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude. we cannot consign our children to this future. the tragedy unfolding on our%+ coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash
america's innovation and seize control of our own destiny. this is not some distant vision for america. the transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time, but over the last year and a half we have taken unprecedented action to jump- start the clean energy industry. as we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines. people are going back to work installinn eeergy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and familles are making their homes more energy efficient. scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technology that someday will lead to entirely new industries. each of us has a part to play in a future that will benefit all of us. as we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs, but only if we accelerate the transition.
only if we seize the moment. and only if we rally together and act as one nation -- workers and entrepreneurs, scientists and citizens, public and private sectors. when i was a candidate, i laid out a set of principles that would move our country toward energy independence. last year, the house acted by passinn a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill, a bill that makes clean energy the profitable energy for america's businesses. there are costs associated with this transition. some believe we cannot afford those costs right now. i say we cannot afford not to change how we roduce and use energy, because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater. so i am happy to look at other
ideas and approaches from either party, as long as they tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. some would suggest raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. others wonder why the energy industry spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development. all of these approaches have merit and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. but the one approach that i will not accept is inaction. the one answer i will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. you know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in world war ii. the ssme thing was said about our ability to harness the technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. and yet, time and again, we
have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny, our determination to fight for the america we want for our children. even if we are unsure exactly what that looks like, even if we do not yet precisely know how we will get there, we know we will get there. it is a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. it is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the gulf right now. each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region's fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to america long ago by fishing immigrants from europe. it is called the blessing of the fleet. today it is a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will head out to sea, some for weeks at a time. the ceremony goes on in good
times and in bad. it took place after katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago. and still, they came and they prayed. as a priest and former fisherman once said, "the blessing is not that god has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. the blessing is that he is with us always -- a blessing that is granted even in the midst of the storm." the oil spill is not the last crisis america will face. this nation has known hard times before, and we will surely know them again. what has always seen us through is our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it. tonight, we pray for that courage.
we pray forrthe people of the gulf coast. we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a better day. thank you. god bless you. and may god bless america. >> president obama meets with bp officials tomorrow. the executives from faw of oil companies, including bp -- fro m five oil companies, including bp, were on the hill today. representative markey called their response plans "identical and effective." [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] [gavel pounds] >> 57 days ago, in the dead of
night, the worst environmental nightmare in u.s. history began. and in homes ere i across the country, we see the live video of tens of thousands of barrels of oil, billowing into the gulf of mexico every for years, the oil industry's war this could never happen. we were told the technology had advance -- for years, the oil industry swore this could never bp said they did not think the rate would sink. it did. they said they could not handle an exxon valdez size spill every day. they could not. they said it was 1,000 barrels per day. it was not, and they knew it. the other companies here today will contend this was an isolated incident.
they will say a similar disaster could never happen to them. and yet, it is this kind of blind faith, which is ironically the name of an actual raid in the gulf, that has led to this kind of disaster. in preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the company's here today. what we found was that these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. the plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical, effective equipment. in some cases, they use the exact same words. we found that all of these companies, not just the p., made the exact same assurances. -- not just bp [. .
three companies that have provisions for protecting walruses. two plans are such dead ringers for bp that they list of phone number for the same long dead expert. the american people deserve oil safety plans that are ironclad and not boilerplate. we now know the oil industry and the government agency tasked with regulating them and determined that there was 80 chance that this kind of undersea disaster -- a zero chance that this kind of disaster could occur. when you believe there is is -pzero chance of a disaster happening, you do zero disaster planning. the oil industry has invested
nearly zero time and money into developing safety and response efforts. the oil companies before us today amassed nearly $289 billion in profits over the last three years. they spent $39 billion to explore for new oil and gas. yet, the average investment in research and development for safety, accident prevention, and skill response was a paltry $20 million per year, less than 1/10 of 1% of their profits. the oil companies may think it is fine to produce carbon copies of their safety plans, but the american people and -- expect and deserve more. it is time to expect more from the oil industry, and that needs to start today. first, congress must ensure that
there is unlimited liability for oil spills by oil companies. while we try to cap this well, we must lift the cap on oil industry liability. second, congress must also enact wide-ranging safety reforms for offshore drilling. if oil companies are going to pursue alternate-deep drilling, we must ensure that it is all true safe and that companies can respond ultrafast ann it is ultra safe. the free ride is over. right now, every single one of the company's here today and dozens of others are drilling for free in the gulf of mexico on leases that will cost american taxpayers more than $50 a billion in lost royalties. and fourth, we must ensure that
new technologies are developed for capping wells, boosting safety, and cleaning up spills. i will sson introduce the oil so as an act to ensure we have 21st century technologies in place. finally, america%must move to a safer, clean energy future so we do not have to rely as much on oil to power our cars and our economy. the american people deserve answers from the oil industry, and i look forward to the testimony of our witnesses. i would like to recognize my distinguished colleague from michigan, the ranking member of the subcommittee, the gentleman from michigan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you you for calling this a very important hearing. what happened on the 202-737- was ater horizon rig
tragedy. the loss of life was heartbreaking and the environmental damage that worsens by the day is a gut it needs to be made crystal clear to all involved that the polluter will pay. the american taxpayer should not and will not bb on the hook for the cost of this accident, both economic and environmental. nor should consumers to be punished with tax increases passed in the name of the bp spell that will only serve to add cost to hard-working americans and further weaken our economy. we now have the opportunity to look bp america in the eye and demand they fulfil their responsibility for the disaster in the gulf, and an important step is the creation of an escrow account that will assure -- american taxpayers are not left holding the tab. in the wake of this tragedy, we solutions that will protect consumers, taxpayers, and our
national security. the cleanup has been that too slow, way too slow and too indecisive. we want answers. we have to work to ensure that a disaster like this never happens again. when that enrich exploded and its millions of gallons of oil leaked into the gulf of mexico, our economy and our national security posture is weekend. i am aware that each witness was given of lengthy list of questions in advance of the hearing. questions about rig safety, and questions about chemical dispersants. legitimate and constructive questions that will help us forge a solution-oriented policy. i am disheartened to learned that a few of the questions have nothing to do the disaster -- with the disaster.
it is only to push an agenda. some of those questions are -- how much is your company inveesing in the deployment of renewable, alternative energy? what steps do you believe the u.s. government should take to reduce the threat posed by climate change? do you support in economy-wide cap on greenhouse emissions? would your company be able to pass the costs of purchasing emission allowances to its customers? frankly, i would prefer to bring up the cap and trade bill again on the house floor, because i am convinced that this year it wouud fail rather than pass with the seven vote margin in it did last summer. but that is not the issue at hand. instead of taking time to talk about cap and tax or cat and
trade, let's figure out how to cap the well. we are not here to discuss climate change, but rather, what each of our witnesses think went wrong on the horizon rig. let us not forget what is on the line here -- jobs, the environment, our economy, and initial security. three years ago, when bp was caught increasing the discharge into lake michigan, i joined with the great lakes caucus and other colleagues on both sides of the aisle, across the great lakes, to beat back the attempt to increase pollution in our lake. we did not take a partisan posture. we worked together to solve the problem. we need similar bipartisanship here today. the gulf of mexico accounts for almost 1/3 of u.s. oil production. if we eliminate that supply and our dependency -- the dependency on foreign oil will indeed go
up. saudi arabia will be happy. hugo chavez will be popping champagne. the team of engineers tapped by secretary ken salazar to examine what went wrong on the rig recently wrote, "we believe the blowout was caused by a highly improbable chain of human error is coupled with several equipment failures and was preventable. the petroleum industry will learn from this. it can and will do better. we should not be satisfied --" just wait for a second. "we should not be satisfied until there are no debts and environmental impacts offshore ever. however, we must understand that as with any human endeavor, there will always be risks."
let's learn from this awful mistake, fix the problem, clean up the golf, and move forward to fixing our ailing economy and creating private-sector jobs. i yield back my time. >> the chair recognizes the chairman of the full committee, the gentleman from california, mr. henry waxman. >> thank you for joint -- for holding this hearing and for your to natioenacious work. your efforts have kept congress and the american people informed about the environmental disaster unfolding in theegulf of mexico. yesterday, chairman steve back and i released a letter describing a series of questionable decisions made by bp in the days before the blowout. time after time, bp appears to have taken shortcuts that increased the risk of catastrophic blow outs. one of the central questions for today's hearing is whether the
other oil companies are any petter prepared than bp.+ last week, after receiving a request, the committee asked each of the five major oil companies for their oil spill response plans. on paper, they are very impressive. each document has more than 500 pages long. i will hold up the documents that is the contingency plan. but what the show is that exxon mobil, chevron, and shell are no better preparrd to deal with a major oil spill than bp. the same company, the response group, wrote the five plans and described them as a cookie cutter plants. much of the text is identical. four of the plans discussed how to protect walruses, but there are no walruses in the gulf of
mexico. we analyzed two key parts of the plants -- the provisions for stopping at the blow out, like the one that is spewing oil acrrss the gulf, and at their worst case scenarios. we found that none of the five oil companies has an adequate response plan. it is instructive to compare exxon and mobil's plan for controlling the subsea blow up with bp's plan. here is what bp says. "in the event this bill source cannot be controlled by the facility operator or remotely with a safety system, bp will activate the oil spill response plan and assemble a team of technical experts to respond to this situation." here is what exxon mobil says -- the text on the screen. "in the event this bill source
cannot be controlled by the facility operator or remotely with a safety system, exxon will activate the oil spill response and assemble a team of technical experts to respond to this situation." the plants are identical. and so are the plans for chevron and conocophillips. shell says it would use the same strategies of top kills and a jump shot that have already failed. each of the plans include a section on responding to worst- case scenarios, involving offshore exploratory wells. on paper, these plans look reassuring. bp's plan says it can handle a spill of 250,000 barrels per day. both chevron and shell say they can handle more than 200,000